Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Golden State Needs More Bare Beaches!

“No nudity” is no joke to naturist group

by Paul Sisolak/

Organization lobbies for clothing optional laws in Carpinteria and

Select members of a nudist action group seeking the restoration of
clothing optional areas at two local beaches are prepared to give
government officials a “nude awakening.”

Tied to the nationally-affiliated Naturist Action Committee (NAC) and
the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA), they have formed a
sub-group with plans to approach legislators about amending local
anti-nudity ordinances at Bates Beach and Finney Beach in Summerland.

The Nude Beach Alliance is comprised of 75 naturists from Ventura and
Santa Barbara counties.

Allen Baylis, an attorney and member of the NAC Board of Directors,
naturism, or the practice of nudism, particularly on beaches, is a
misconstrued and misunderstood activity.

“We feel nude or clothing optional recreation is a valid recreation and
should be enjoyed as so,” he said. “People who believe it’s immoral to
be without clothes have created these problems for us. This is an issue
for them.”

Baylis believes the main issue at hand is that many beachfront
confused public nudity with public sexual behavior, complained, and
prohibiting the practice were suggested and approved.

“It’s all a matter of context, that anything that invokes nudity is
sexual, and that’s just not so,” noted Baylis.

On the books, a few Santa Barbara County ordinances passed by the board
of supervisors disallow nudity in all county recreational areas,
including beaches and parks, according to sheriff’s lieutenant Darin

“Yes, there’s a section of the public who enjoy nudity. For them,
they’re a small portion of the community,” noted Fotheringham. “The
intent of these laws is for the majority of the public.”

According to Fotheringham, existing anti-nudity mandates are important,
not because nudists practice sexual acts in public, but because some
people find sexual gratification by flocking to nude beaches, observing
naturists, and committing lewd and lascivious acts.

“What is drawn to the nudity is an element of perverts,” said the
lieutenant. “It draws another crowd because they’re no naturalists, but
they go to gawk.”

Many offenses to anti-nudity laws, generally considered a citable
infraction for the sheriff’s department, are committed unintentionally,
said Fotheringham, often by vacationing tourists from Europe, where
nudity is a more accepted practice.

“Obviously, our standards to what is accessible or offensive to the
public are a different standard than to another country,” Fotheringham
said. “Ignorance is not a defense under California law.”

“Nudists are a very unique kind of environmentalist” that keep beaches
clean and quiet while embracing nudity as a natural state of being,
Gary Mussel, president of the Southern California Naturist Association
in Calabasas.

According to Mussel, since nudity has been restricted, local beaches
now underutilized and have deteriorated to include large quantities of
litter left behind from the clothed that naturists once helped clean up
and maintain.

“The crime goes down, the drugs go down and the beaches are cleaner”
when beaches are nude friendly, said Mussel.

Mussel added that most Southern California naturists must travel to the
nude-friendly Blacks Beach in San Diego and San Onofre Beach in the

Until then, the Nude Beach Alliance, with its Web site,, has started its campaign to change the county’s mind
on its laws.

Mussel said last Saturday a dozen alliance members appeared at the
Solstice Parade in downtown Santa Barbara to hand out paraphernalia,
literature and t-shirts proclaiming “We want our nude beaches back.”

Mussel was surprised at the large amount of support they received, with
one or two negative responses out of 35 in the uninhibited surroundings
of the annual event.

“I expected a lot more negativity, or certainly a mixed reaction,” said
Mussel. “It was a lot more positive than I thought.”

The group, ever mindful that 2006 is an election year, according to
Mussel, will make the slow crawl, clothed, to officials on the city and
county level. A county board of supervisors ruling will require a
three-vote majority to enact new laws.

Mussel said the alliance also has considered pursuing a county
from Carpinteria City Council members that could improve nudists’
chances of returning to Bates Beach.

“This isn’t a bunch of crazies who are trying to seize the beach back,”
explained Mussel. We’re going to do it legally.

“We want to show that we’re part of the community and we’re just like
them. We’re not outsiders,” he continued. “We just want to see if the
Carpinteria community would welcome us back.”


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